## Lookup with an unknown number of criteria

My question is: what would you do if you don't know the predetermined number of criteria. So let's say the person searching only specifies security and not date. Or only date, and not security. Or maybe both. The problem is you don't know from beforehand.

How would you go about solving this problem?

Your help is greatly appreciated, thanks so much!!

The data table is on sheet 2.

**Array formula in cell B8:**

**How to enter an array formula**

- Select cell B8
- Type the above array formula
- Press and hold CTRL + SHIFT
- Press Enter
- Release all keys

If you got it right, there is now a **{** before the array formula and a **}** after the array formula.

### How to copy array formula

- Copy cell B8
- Paste to C8:E8
- Copy cell range B8:E8
- Paste to cell range B9:E19

### Explaining the array formula in cell B8

**Step 1 - Count the number of cells in each table column that meet the criteria and add the arrays**

The COUNTIF function counts values based on a condition or criteria.

COUNTIF($B$4, Sheet2!$A$2:$A$21)+COUNTIF(Sheet1!$C$4, Sheet2!$B$2:$B$21)+COUNTIF(Sheet1!$D$4, Sheet2!$C$2:$C$21)+COUNTIF(Sheet1!$E$4, Sheet2!$D$2:$D$21)

becomes

{0;0;1;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0})+{0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0}+{0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0}+{0;0;1;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;1;0;0;0;0;0}

and returns

{0;0;2;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;1;0;0;0;0;0}

This means that there are two criteria matching on row 3 in the table

**Step 2 - Count the number of criteria matching and compare with each value in the array above**

The IF function has three arguments, the first one must be a logical expression. If the expression evaluates to TRUE then one thing happens (argument 2) and if FALSE another thing happens (argument 3).

IF(COUNTA($B$4:$E$4)=(COUNTIF($B$4, Sheet2!$A$2:$A$21)+COUNTIF(Sheet1!$C$4, Sheet2!$B$2:$B$21)+COUNTIF(Sheet1!$D$4, Sheet2!$C$2:$C$21)+COUNTIF(Sheet1!$E$4, Sheet2!$D$2:$D$21)), MATCH(ROW(Sheet2!$D$2:$D$21), ROW(Sheet2!$D$2:$D$21)), "")

becomes

IF(2={0;0;2;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;1;0;0;0;0;0}, MATCH(ROW(Sheet2!$D$2:$D$21), ROW(Sheet2!$D$2:$D$21)), "")

becomes

IF(2={0;0;2;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;1;0;0;0;0;0}, {1;2;3;4;5;6;7;8;9;10;11;12;13;14;15;16;17;18;19;20}, "")

becomes

IF({FALSE; FALSE; TRUE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE}, {1;2;3;4;5; 6;7;8;9;10; 11;12;13;14; 15;16;17;18;19;20}, "")

and returns

{"";"";3;""; "";"";"";"";""; "";"";"";"";"";""; "";"";"";"";""}

**Step 3 - Find the k-th smallest row number**

To be able to return a new value in a cell each I use the SMALL function to filter column numbers from smallest to largest.

SMALL(IF(COUNTA($B$4:$E$4)=(COUNTIF($B$4, Sheet2!$A$2:$A$21)+COUNTIF(Sheet1!$C$4, Sheet2!$B$2:$B$21)+COUNTIF(Sheet1!$D$4, Sheet2!$C$2:$C$21)+COUNTIF(Sheet1!$E$4, Sheet2!$D$2:$D$21)), MATCH(ROW(Sheet2!$D$2:$D$21), ROW(Sheet2!$D$2:$D$21)), ""), ROW(A1))

becomes

SMALL({"";"";3;""; "";"";"";"";""; "";"";"";"";"";""; "";"";"";"";""}, ROW(A1))

and returns 3.

**Step 4 - Return corresponding value from data table on sheet 2**

The INDEX function returns a value based on a cell reference and column/row numbers.

INDEX(Sheet2!$A$2:$D$21, SMALL(IF(COUNTA($B$4:$E$4)=(COUNTIF($B$4, Sheet2!$A$2:$A$21)+COUNTIF(Sheet1!$C$4, Sheet2!$B$2:$B$21)+COUNTIF(Sheet1!$D$4, Sheet2!$C$2:$C$21)+COUNTIF(Sheet1!$E$4, Sheet2!$D$2:$D$21)), MATCH(ROW(Sheet2!$D$2:$D$21), ROW(Sheet2!$D$2:$D$21)), ""), ROW(A1)), COLUMN(A1))

becomes

INDEX(Sheet2!$A$2:$D$21, 3, COLUMN(A1))

becomes

INDEX(Sheet2!$A$2:$D$21, 3, 1)

and returns Keisha.

**Step 5 - Check if there are more than 0 (zero) citeria**

The COUNTA function counts the non-empty or blank cells in a cell range.

COUNTA($B$4:$E$4)<>0

becomes

2<>0

and returns TRUE

**Step 6 - Return value if there are more than zero criteria**

IF(COUNTA($B$4:$E$4)<>0, INDEX(Sheet2!$A$2:$D$21, SMALL(IF(COUNTA($B$4:$E$4)=(COUNTIF($B$4, Sheet2!$A$2:$A$21)+COUNTIF(Sheet1!$C$4, Sheet2!$B$2:$B$21)+COUNTIF(Sheet1!$D$4, Sheet2!$C$2:$C$21)+COUNTIF(Sheet1!$E$4, Sheet2!$D$2:$D$21)), MATCH(ROW(Sheet2!$D$2:$D$21), ROW(Sheet2!$D$2:$D$21)), ""), ROW(A1)), COLUMN(A1)), "")

becomes

IF(TRUE, "Keisha", "")

and returns "Keisha" in cell B8.

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### 4 Responses to โLookup with an unknown number of criteriaโ

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Hi Oscar,

This is great and compliments your Multiple Criteria and Multiple Matches series of posts very well. However I have been trying to modify the array formulas in the 3rd and 4th posts of that series to cope with wildcard searches or part cell matches and thought this post may help but not so far unfortunately.

I have tried numerous approaches but can't seem to get a multiple criteria series of "searches" (or counts) to work with anything but exact data.

I'm trying to search for part of a serial number e.g.(A110 within a string A110E12694369020 as one of my search inputs. In this case it is always the first 4 digits but I'd like to be able to input just A1 or *A1* into a search cell and not rely on reviewing the first 4 characters as this is not always the result for these serial numbers.

I'm also looking for items with corresponding dates equal or before a certain due date search string - your 4th post to Lookup-with-multiple-criteria-and-display-multiple-search-results-using-excel-formula-part-4-john helped me resolve this criteria though.

Finally I'm trying another 'wildcard' search and to find FSS (or *FSS*) OR the exact inverse of this - so NOT containing FSS (or *FSS*) - and both of these search criteria are proving elusive to me.

All the data I have is in a large table but I'm not sure if I can alter it to be an Excel Table (which might help), as it is in a sheet that is deleted and replaced by an irregular macro from another workbook and this may corrupt a Table setup(?). It can not be a Pivot as the data is in a shared workbook and Pivot Tables do not update when in shared documents - hence the Array solution I am trying to develop. I have successfully named the columns of ranges I need though without loosing them on an update of data.

To summarise - I'd like to search by some form of wildcard; *app* to return a positive result for "apple" and to search for the opposite; have a criteria that would exclude "apple" using soemthing like *app*

Although I have around 80 columns I'm just looking to return the serial number in say Column A based on these multiple criteria; Col B <= a date, Col C does NOT contain a wildcard string *whatever*, Col D DOES contain a different wildcard string, Col E EXACTLY equals a third search string etc. I am happy to build up the criteria to more columns beyond this if I can resolve the NOT and the wildcard elements.

I'd really appreciate some further pointers, thanks Oscar!

Dear Oscar,

Ned Help!

How we can modify the above formula? as...

(the above example has 4 cols in Sheet2 and 4 criteria's to be searched in Sheet1 i.e. same No. of columns in both sheets and output is of same i.e. 4 cols)

What if we have 6 columns in data table in Sheet2 but same number of criteria i.e. 4 in sheet1 and we want to return the whole set of data from Sheet2 based on the criteria provided.

Thanks for your time and understanding.

Qadeer

Hello Mr Oscar,

I have the matter to create a megaformula to categorize my list. For short example:

A1: Cash in deposit (Branch A t/t)

A2: Borrowed from Corp. A

A3: Interest payment

A4: Int.panalty pmt

A5: Prin. Pmt

A6: Salary Pmt on April

A7: Sales abroad

A8: Branch C t/t

A9: Transferred from Company AA

A10: Mortgages to DD ltd

A11: Sal. Pmt on May

and at B1 cell, I create a formula as follows:

=IF(COUNT(SEARCH({"branch","corp.", "company"},A1))>0,"Precol.", IF(COUNT(SEARCH({"interest","int.", "prin."},A1))>0,"lo.",IF(COUNT(SEARCH("sales",A1))>0, "Sa.",IF(COUNT(SEARCH({"sal.", "Salary","wage","payroll"}, A1))>0,"Se.", "Others"))))

But, my formula is too long and too many parentheses.

I want to shorten this formula or replace by another. But how?

Could you please to solve my question?

Thank you very much.

Hung

Minh Hung

Thank you for your comment, I believe I have an answer for you:

https://www.get-digital-help.com/2017/07/07/nested-search/